on June 2, 2004
Rachael you've done it again!
I never thought that you could surpass SEVENTY EIGHT DEGREES OF WISDOM but you did it with this one!
The book goes beyond the terrestrial presentation of the cards and presents a unique (and long awaited) perspective for the Tarot community. Basically she says, in fact she screams between the lines "USE THE TAROT". Forget the hype, the type, the schools and the rules and pick up the cards and use them.
And don't believe you have the "correct" tarot and the "right" meanings because you don't and no one does. That's what I like about this it is unpretentious; it's just one woman's take on a pack of cards that happen to be Tarot cards. But it's an amazing take on some awe inspiring cards.
I'm sure we all could come up with pretty interesting interpretations and valid ideas if we would use the cards the way she does. Often the creators of decks say that they never intentionally created a meaning etc. for an image but it somehow got there. These are the images that speak the meanings of the cards - so subtley and yet so powerful - wheter intentionally or unintentionally placed. They are the sub and unconcious, the real, the apparent and that which we cannot see.
E.g. The Woman with the Camel - refer Cabala, Jewish Lore, Biblical interprestation, Arabic customs, etc. these are her connections, the list goes on however, even a Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs decides to leave his Castle and travels on a camel through the desert to reach some traders in an oasis (my connection). I'm sure you would never pick up any of these references with a standard deck and a typical tarot book! And the woman with the camel is the High Priestess.
Don't discard what the foreparents of Tarot have thought - build on it. You can buy this book and learn how to use the Tarot or you can pick up the tarot and use it yourself!
on July 9, 2003
This is the first book by Rachel Pollack I've read, she's written a few others which have been highly acclaimed - and after reading this excellent book, I can understand why.
Pollack opens with a description of the various histories and mythological guesses at the origins of the Tarot, combining it with its known history, and personal experience. Spirituality, symbols, myths and archetypes are common themes explored in this book as Pollack approaches the decks in a more spiritual rather than divinatory light.
The text is beautifully accompanied by a variety of black and white illustrations of various Tarot decks, many of which I've never seen before. She examines the commonalities found within them, and explains much of the mythology and reasoning behind such images. Pollack relies heavily on the Shining Tribe Tarot she created, obviously as that symbolism resonates best with her understanding.
There are methods of asking questions of the Tarot that she seems to feel others would find heretical. Coming from a chaos magick background myself, I can't quite understand why, though I've found my work enhanced by her suggestions. She expands upon the traditional spreads listed in every other book with spontaneous questions and insights of her own. Previous to reading Forest of Souls, my Tarot readings were much more ridgedly structured. Ms. Pollack has given my practice a much needed breath of fresh air, allowing for much more creativity and spontaneity in my readings.
An excellent book for expanding one's thought on traditional histories and practices of Tarot, highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Tarot.
on October 24, 2002
In her new work, Rachel Pollack takes readers deeper into the Tarot than many would have thought possible. She says that "the Tarot works best as an instrument of our wisdom when we dare to ask it outrageous questions..." and she does, indeed, ask questions and explore concepts that are both complex and challenging.
Forest of Souls is written so that people who have had little exposure to Tarot can follow along (cards from many decks are reproduced right in the text), but also where people who have spent years studying can find new things - even the third and fourth times through.
Rachel encourages us to let go of more traditional definitions and layouts, and to use the cards in "divine play". With tales of myth and history from different cultures and traditions, she moves from the origins of the Tarot to the origins of the universe... and through the inner workings of the human soul.
Although this book is not about how to read the Tarot, it will significantly enhance your reading skills and enlarge your notion of what the Tarot can be and do. Many of the questions pondered also create transformational experiences as Rachel leads us to "explore possibilities outside our normal ways of thought."
I highly recommend Forest of Souls to anyone interested in Tarot, no matter what their level of experience or skill.
on October 22, 2002
The author begins her book with a "Gallery of Quotations," utilizing diverse sources--a Reconstructionist Jewish prayer book, personal correspondence, T.S. Eliot, and the Bible. Being a font of fabulous quotations, Pollack is also self-referential.
In the ensuing chapters, like the reverently irreverent Tracy Ullman, Pollack takes on such subjects as the Tarot's origins, wisdom questions (as opposed to asking, "Will X marry me," she asks, "What is marriage?"), Jewish and Kabbalistic thoughts as they pertain to the Tarot, and formulating new versions of the Fool's Journey. The author does a reading for God ("God's Reading") and finds Christian symbolism abounding in her own Shining Tribe deck when she performs "A Reading for the Resurrection: Easter 2001."
What do I mean by reverently irreverent? Some might call doing a spread for God irreverent. Yet Pollack's awe is reserved for what is truly profound, and part of that profundity is in pushing the limits of what we have done before or think we know. She pushes those limits not out of irreverence, but reverence for the truly infinite. And for the tarot, in what it can offer us in terms of infinite wisdom
If you have been fortunate enough to attend a workshop with Rachel Pollack, you know that her style is humorous and digressive. She is widely read and thinks and speaks in an unconventional, intellectually searching voice. This voice is manifested in The Forest of Souls, far more than in her previous tarot writings. I could actually hear her in my head, alluding to Professor Irwin Cory and tales of her dog's exploits. The tone of the book has an immediacy and vitality that makes it easy to read, which is an amazing feat, as the concepts and thoughts are both complex and challenging.
They are also unique. I cannot think of another book like this in the tarot oeuvre. It is also demanding, particularly in its structure. While Pollack offers us a panoply of different ways in which we can use the tarot, this is no traditional workbook. She describes what she has done, but she certainly doesn't set up a format that we can follow by rote. She doesn't make it easy. One example is her approach to alternative Major Arcana journeys. I am excited by doing one of my own, but I must admit I would have preferred some step-by-step instructions, even as I feel challenged in a positive way. Pollack's Forest of Souls isn't a stop on the Carnival Tour. This isn't the Easily Digestible Approach to Tarot, but one of visionaries, dreamers, and explorers. Only adult tarot readers need apply.
In high school, I read Elie Wiesel's The Gates of the Forest, a moving novel about the holocaust and Kabbalah. I remember being so engrossed in this book that I was shocked to feel something wet on my shoulder. It was a tear that had fallen without me even being aware that I was crying, so enmeshed was I in that compelling story. The title of that book, so similar to Rachel's, brought that memory back to me. The synchronicity of the subject matter seems to align with the magic of the Tarot, another inviting and complex forest for which we are blessed to have a guide like Rachel Pollack.
on October 16, 2002
In the beginning of her book, Rachel Pollack quotes from Stephen Karcher's TaChuan, the Great Treatise: "Erect the gates. Then the transformation can take place between them." In that sense Rachel's book might well be called the Book of Gates. Step through her gates for transformational experiences with the Tarot.
Tarot readings, Rachel informs us, are not ways to reveal secrets or to describe the future. They are gates to new perspectives; they allow us to "explore possibilities outside our normal ways of thought."
In Forest Rachel reminds us that in a Tarot reading, the card is only half the answer, while the other half lies in the way in which we interpret it. What, she asks, if we do readings not just to reveal the forces that shape our lives, but also to embrace them? This book will inspire you to do just that, and contains many examples of how to seriously "play" with Tarot cards, and Tarot readings. Her points are illustrated with cards from many different decks.
I am in my third reading of this book, and I love it more each time as I ponder different ideas--ones I only briefly considered the first or second time through. If you will let it, this is a book to shake your boundaries regarding both personal growth and Tarot work.
Rachel gives a little nudge to those boundaries right away with the "outrageous" (meaning delightful and serious) idea of considering that God consulted the cards to create the world, and even of attempting to discover the "very reading that God received." Tarot at play.
You will be stimulated by Rachel's ideas to rethink some of your own ideas about Tarot and Tarot readings, and, maybe, to even have more fun with your cards.
on October 16, 2002
"Playing" with the Tarot in its most serious and its most frivolous sense is much of what Rachel Pollack, and her latest book, are all about. The Forest of Souls is one of her most creative and innovative books to date.
Part of the purpose of the book is to inspire us to learn to become "playful readers." The book calls upon us to learn to use the Tarot to explore unknown territory, to let go of more traditional definitions and layouts, and to use the cards in "divine play" to open pathways to the "sacred mysteries and riddles of existence." In Forest, we are shown many examples of how to do just that.
The book is filled with delightful anecdotal stories from different cultures and traditions, including one that says Thoth invented the Tarot so he could play cards with the Moon. Never heard that one? Read the book for more details.
Cards from many different decks are used to illustrate points, including Rachel's own Shining Tribe deck, as inspirational a deck as was ever created.
For those who have never been able to have a reading with Rachel, Forest offers examples of some of the techniques and ways of reading that she puts into practice, and that you may want to extend into your own practice. This is a book all about "breakthroughs" in reading the Tarot and in living your life.
on September 30, 2002
This book by Rachel Pollack was written for me... well, really for anyone who knows little about the Tarot yet has a willingness to appreciate MORE obout their surroundings as they travel the Path of Life.
Rachel loves everything Tarot like a forest ranger LOVES everything about his particular forest. Have you ever followed a nature trail and simply enjoyed the scenery? The same feeling is generated when you "walk through" various Tarot Decks and simply enjoy the pictures! But the day comes when you take a nature trail hike but this time a forest ranger guides your tour. What a wealth of information pores out of the rangers vast experience... and the love he has for everything simply comes alive for you. Rachel Pollack is definately "Smokey the Bear" in pointing out Tarot tidbits and details that make our forest tour unforgettable.
Rachel tells us right up front (introduction page XXII), "This book is for anyone interested in spiritual discovery. It is also for anyone interested in Taort. I have tried to write itin such a way that people who know nothing beforehand about Tarot can follow it..., while people who have spent their lives in Tarot study can still find new things in it." She adds, "A tunnel is no good if you can't find your way through it." Rachel not only tells us the way through, she walks the path with us.
A nature trail is far more than "naming every tree on the path." And Tarot is more than memorizing every card in the deck.
As a nature guide may reveal to us that we are getting closer to the river because the SEQUENCE of trees indicates this, so Rachel reveals to us that we should"let the cards tell their own story through the sequence of their pictures." A naturalist may revel that we know where a certain bird lays her eggs by the position the parents take on surrounding branches, while Rachel might remind us that the little bird on a certain card is an ibis and the Egyptians taught that this ibis was none other than Thoth who records the record of all things. (a little bird told me that one!!!)
Rachel has published over 25 books on Tarot... she knows what she is doing... and she loves it. It is easy to catch that infectous love of learning especially as it continues in this most recent book, The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot...
on October 2, 2002
This book is essential for anyone seriously interested in tarot! The author will stretch your concepts of time, tarot and everything else in between. Rachel has one of the most original minds in Tarot today.
Among other concepts, she offers us the wisdom reading which focuses on the larger questions such as "what is God?" This book will increase your reading skills and enlarge your notion of what the tarot can be and do. The techniques can be applied to any deck.
The book is illustrated with numerous different decks including Rachel's own Shining Tribe.
on May 25, 2004
"Forest Of Souls" is generally an adequate book, but could be much more powerful than it is. Unfortunately, it was rather a let-down in comparison to "78 Degrees Of Wisdom" by the same author.